Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the military to create an elite force with training in real combat and digital warfare. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during an inspection of a division of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) army in the Central Theatre Command, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
Regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader, Xi has been pressing the 2.3 million strong PLA, the world’s largest standing force, to improve combat training and function under the leadership of the party and CMC, which is the overall command of the military. On Wednesday, Xi issued military training instructions to the PLA during a mobilisation ceremony that was simultaneously broadcast to 4,000 military gatherings around China.
The ceremony was held at a military training base in North China under the PLA’s Central Theatre Command, with more than 7,000 PLA troops and 300 armed vehicles, China Central Television (CCTV) reported. At the ceremony, Xi ordered the Chinese military to strengthen combat readiness and put military training in a strategic position, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the PLA, reported.
“This is the first time since the founding of the country that instructions on military training have been directly issued by the chairman of the CMC, and it shows that improving combat readiness is now a strategic mission for the Chinese military,” said Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and senior adviser of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association told state-run Global Times.
“The core of improving combat readiness is to maintain and promote combat capability. China can’t copy the US’ measure to improve combat capability through actual combat overseas since our national defense policy is defensive rather than offensive. Therefore, military training becomes extremely important for China,” Xu said.
“Currently, one-third of our defence budget is used for military training,” Xu added. China’s defence budget last year amounted to $152 billion.